An Introduction to Subproject 7

Aside from the assessment of already restored sites that forms the main focus of this research unit, subproject 7 will be focussing on live restoration in co-creation with local stakeholders. From 2024 through 2027, a Living Lab will be implemented in Northwestern Rwanda within the four nW districts,(Rutsiro, Nyabihu, Ngororero and Rubavu, a region known as a high risk soil erosion zone with Ngororero being at the top and Rubavu at the third position after Muhanga District). Here we are developing round tables of restoration practitioners to build up a network of key actors and exchange experiences. WhatsApp groups are being used as a starting point for this. The living lab will probably be set up across two to three different cells and villages where one village involves more traditional restoration activities (typically performed by ARCOS), another village involves typical ARCOS activities as well as our own additional actions, and a third village carries out restoration by a bottom-up community approach within a village.

With the aim to create actionable knowledge on how to design and implement restoration activities on the more ambitious side of the restorative continuum in different socio-political contexts, the Living Lab will be used to carry out scientific experiments together with stakeholders, using a transdisciplinary approach, to integrate science and practice towards positive social and ecological outcomes. The Living Lab will help foster local capacity building, empowerment through action, iterative learning, and capitalization on experience in a process-oriented way. Thus, the outcomes of this sub-project will be of direct relevance to sustainability transitions on the ground for a higher reproducibility as generalizable model for up-scaling of restoration practices as well as to boosting the academic understanding of which factors best leverage sustainability transitions.